What Is Morse Code and How Is It Used Today?

What Is Morse Code? Morse Code History
What is Morse Code? What is the history of Morse Code? How is Morse Code used today? And how can you convert Morse Code to text? We’ll look at all these questions and more in this post.

What is Morse Code?

Morse Code is a detailed system of dots, dashes, and spaces used to represent numbers, punctuation, and letters of the alphabet. It is used both as a code and a way to communicate without the ability or need to use actual characters. There are two versions of Morse Code: the original version and the newer International Morse Code. The international system simplified things by removing the spaces and making all the dashes a standard length.

The History of Morse Code

Originally invented by American Samuel F.B. Morse in the 1830’s for use in telegraphy, the original version only represented numbers. That was soon improved upon by his partner, Alfred Lewis Vail, to include letters and some punctuation. Upon making its way over to telegraph operators in Europe, it was quickly determined that changes were needed, as Morse Code was ill-equipped to deal with many of the diacritic characters in other languages. This led to the creation of International Morse Code in 1851, which has remained relatively the same ever since.

Using Morse Code

One of the great advantages of Morse Code is its ability to be used in just about any circumstance. It works as long as it is possible to create a signal of some sort, whether that be a written or symbolic image, flashing a light, or even just tapping on something. It is also used commonly in radio communication. Morse Code’s flexibility to be used in almost any scenario is one of the reasons it is considered an important part of training for soldiers.

Obviously, language can still be a barrier, which is why a number of common words are considered key components of Morse Code. The most famous of these is “SOS,” designed as a universal distress signal by the German government in 1905. While many people have attempted to attribute meaning to the acronym, the SOS Morse Code was actually just chosen for its simplicity, being represented by three dots, three dashes, and three more dots.

Morse Code was used extensively during World War II, in the Vietnam and Korean wars, and remained the standard format for ocean communication until the Global Maritime Distress Safety System replaced it in 1999.

Morse Code Chart

Below, you will find charts to help you learn Morse code. The first chart is the Morse Code alphabet, and the second is the Morse Code numbers.

Morse Code Alphabet Chart

Alphabet International Morse Code
A . _
B _ . . .
C _ . _ .
D _ . .
E .
F . . _ .
G _ _ .
H . . . .
I . .
J . _ _ _
K _ . _
L . _ . .
M _ _
N _ .
O _ _ _
P . _ _ .
Q _ _ . _
R . _ .
S . . .
T _
U . . _
V . . . _
W . _ _
X _ . . _
Y _ . _ _
Z _ _ . .

Morse Code Number Chart

Number International Morse Code
1 . – – – –
2 . . – – –
3 . . . – –
4 . . . . _
5 . . . . .
6 – . . . .
7 – – . . .
8 – – – . .
9 – – – – .
0 – – – – –

Modern technology has reduced emphasis on learning and usage of Morse Code, but it still has the potential to be useful in severe or remote circumstances. It remains popular among amateur radio operators and has even proven an effective form of communication for those rendered incapable of speech by stroke or paralysis.

Want to test yourself and see how you’d fare without modern communications? Review the Morse Code charts above, and take this quiz to see how well you know the Morse Code alphabet: Morse Code Alphabet Quiz.